Selenium is a mineral that is vital for many body functions, such as converting food into energy, supporting your immune system, and regulating your thyroid hormones. But did you know that selenium can also protect you from chronic diseases, such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes?
Selenium is often called the immunity and metabolism mineral because of its role in boosting your body’s defenses against infections and inflammation and enhancing your body’s ability to burn calories and regulate blood sugar levels. Selenium also acts as an antioxidant that protects your cells from damage caused by free radicals, which are harmful molecules that can cause aging and disease.
Selenium deficiency is rare, but it can cause various symptoms and problems related to your immunity and metabolism, such as:
- Weakness and fatigue
- Hair loss and brittle nails
- Dry and scaly skin
- Low thyroid function and goiter
- Increased risk of infections and inflammation
- Impaired wound healing and tissue repair
- Reduced fertility and reproductive health
- Increased risk of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes
Selenium deficiency can be caused by various factors, such as:
- Poor diet and malabsorption
- Genetic disorders or mutations
- Medications that interfere with selenium absorption or metabolism
- Pregnancy and breastfeeding
- Smoking and alcohol consumption
- Chronic diseases such as HIV or Crohn’s disease
If you have any of these risk factors or symptoms of selenium deficiency, you may benefit from taking selenium supplements or increasing your selenium intake from food sources.
Selenium supplements are available in various forms, such as tablets, capsules, gummies, liquids, or powders. You can take them with or without food, at any time of the day. The recommended dosage of selenium supplements varies depending on the product and the purpose, but generally ranges from 55 to 200 micrograms (mcg) per day for adults. Some people may take higher doses of selenium (up to 400 mcg per day) for therapeutic purposes or to treat certain conditions such as thyroid disorders or cancer. However, there is not enough evidence to support the effectiveness or safety of high-dose selenium supplements. Therefore, it’s advisable to consult your doctor before taking selenium supplements if you have any medical conditions or allergies or are taking any medications or supplements.
Selenium supplements are generally safe and well-tolerated by most people. However, some people may experience side effects such as:
- Nausea and stomach upset
- Allergic reactions such as rash, itching, swelling, or difficulty breathing
- Interference with lab tests such as thyroid function tests or blood glucose tests
To avoid these side effects, you should follow the directions on the label of your selenium supplement and inform your doctor if you are taking selenium supplements before undergoing any lab tests. You should also stop taking selenium supplements if you experience any adverse reactions and seek medical attention if needed.
Selenium supplements are not the only way to boost your selenium levels. You can also get selenium from various foods that contain or promote selenium production in your body. Some of these foods include:
- Brazil nuts: one of the richest sources of selenium (about 68 to 91 mcg per nut)
- Seafood: such as tuna, salmon, shrimp, sardines (about 40 to 90 mcg per 3 ounces)
- Meat: such as beef, pork, chicken (about 15 to 35 mcg per 3 ounces)
- Eggs: about 15 mcg per large egg
- Dairy products: such as milk, yogurt (about 8 to 10 mcg per cup)
- Grains: such as oats, rice (about 6 to 10 mcg per cup)
- Mushrooms: about 4 mcg per cup
You can also enhance your selenium absorption and production by eating foods that contain or provide other nutrients that are important for selenium function or synthesis, such as:
- Vitamin E: a vitamin that works synergistically with selenium to protect your cells from oxidative stress. You can get vitamin E from foods such as sunflower seeds, almonds, spinach, avocado, and olive oil.
- Vitamin C: a vitamin that helps your body absorb selenium and protects it from oxidation. You can get vitamin C from fruits and vegetables such as citrus fruits, berries, kiwi, broccoli, bell peppers, and kale.
- Iodine: a mineral that helps your body use selenium and other enzymes for thyroid hormone production. You can get iodine from foods such as seaweed, iodized salt, dairy products, and eggs.
- Zinc: a mineral that helps your body use selenium and other enzymes for immune system function. You can get zinc from foods such as oysters, beef, pumpkin seeds, chicken, eggs, yogurt, and cheese.
In addition to consuming selenium supplements or selenium-rich foods, you can also prevent selenium loss by avoiding factors that deplete or destroy selenium in your body, such as:
- Cooking: a process that can reduce the selenium content of foods by up to 50%. To preserve the selenium in your foods, you should cook them lightly or eat them raw or less-processed whenever possible.
- Raw cruciferous vegetables: foods such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, and Brussels sprouts that contain substances called goitrogens that can interfere with selenium and thyroid function. To avoid this problem, you should cook these vegetables or eat them in moderation.
- Alcohol: a substance that inhibits selenium absorption in the gut and increases selenium excretion in the urine. Alcohol also causes dehydration, inflammation, oxidative stress, liver damage, and hormonal imbalance in your body, which can affect selenium levels and functions. Alcohol can cause various health problems such as liver disease, pancreatitis, gastritis, anemia, depression, anxiety, insomnia, impotence, infertility, and cancer.
Selenium is a mineral that is essential for many body functions and can also protect you from chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Selenium supplements can help you prevent or correct selenium deficiency and enjoy various benefits for your immunity and metabolism. Selenium supplements are easy to use and have no side effects. You can also boost your selenium levels by eating foods that contain or promote selenium production or by avoiding factors that deplete or destroy selenium in your body.
If you want to improve your immunity and metabolism with selenium supplements or foods, you can consult your doctor or nutritionist for the best advice and guidance. You can also check out our website for more information and tips on selenium and other health and wellness topics. Thank you for reading our blog and we hope you enjoyed it!